Icelandic is at risk of becoming an extinct language — and technology may be to blame

The people of Iceland, settled by Norsemen over 1,100 years ago, have developed a unique dialect based on Old Norse.

Having preserved many ancient elements that are now lost to the rest of the Nordics, Icelandic (like the Sami language in northern Scandinavia) is distinct also because of its inseparable bond with life at the edge of the Arctic. Hundslappadrifa, for example, means “heavy snowfall with large flakes occurring in calm wind,” notes Egill Bjarnason at Associated Press.

But as the language is spoken by fewer than 400,000 people in an increasingly globalized world, many linguistics experts have started to wonder if Icelandic can survive the widespread use of English, which is “boosted by mass tourism and voice-controlled artificial intelligence devices coming into vogue,” says Bjarnason.

Former President Vigdis Finnbogadottir told The Associated Press that Icelanders must take serious steps to protect its language.
“Otherwise, Icelandic will end in the Latin bin,” she warned.

Read more: Business Insider

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